I am an avid reader of Young Adult books when school isn't sucking up all of my time. While I love my preferred genre and its authors to death (and I really hope to be among them one day), there is one problem with the YA world: the main characters are all white, straight, and basically normal. The plots usually go along the lines of the main character--usually a girl--falling in love for the first time or again after a huge heart ache, or some huge family problem. We, the readers of YA, can't blame the authors for putting out similar book after book; it what's they know we love and what we will continue to read. That being said, that doesn't mean that there shouldn't be more diverse books in the world.
When I think YA, I think Sarah Dessen, John Green, and Gayle Forman (among many others). They're the very basic YA authors--and for good reason. I'm not complaining about them at all, but their stories are very similar to each others and their previous ones. When I think dark YA, I think Laurie Halse Anderson and Rainbow Rowell. They write about depression, eating disorders, and abuse. But there's not much diverse YA in the world, i.e., LGBT+, people of color, male main characters. Most main and side characters are middle class, physically pretty, and white.
For the longest time, I wasn't able to think of one main character of color or who liked the same sex out of the hundreds of books I have sitting on my shelves. It wasn't until I was working on a project for my publishing class a few weeks ago that required looking at similar books of which we write (I'm currently co-writing an LGBT+, psychological book with one of the main characters being of color) when I finally came across a few diverse books. It took me way too long to search Goodreads for these books, and way too long to even see them in the first place. Only one out of the five books I found I have actually seen on a shelf in a bookstore! This is something that drastically needs to to change.
There is a campaign titled We Need Diverse Books that is all about having middle grade and Young Adult books with more diversity. Why? Because as young people, our minds are being shaped by every thing around us: family, friends, the news, and most importantly, books. If more books had diverse characters and plots, readers will be able to learn and accept that the world really is diverse, and not something focused on just white, "normal" people.
In order to get diversity into the world, please consider helping out in whatever way you can. This could mean purchasing diverse books for yourself or others, donating to WNDB, writing new diverse books, or simply spreading the word.